Piper and Hannah Joy

Piper, the amazing Cherry Capital Airport dog who chased wildlife away from the runways so planes could take off and land safely, died of cancer last night. He was loved so much by the community that the whole Traverse City area is grieving his loss. Piper actually became an Internet celebrity a year or so ago. Here is a CBS News report about him:

I feel very sad about Piper’s death–maybe because Danny so recently died of cancer. I feel bad for Brian, Piper’s owner, because it I know that it really hurts to lose a beloved pet. Cancer really sucks.

Early yesterday afternoon some relatively heavy snow moved in. The forecast said we could get 5-10 inches of snow. I was indecisive about whether or not to snowblow the driveway.  On the one hand, I didn’t have to hurry to clear the driveway for the mail lady since the mail had already arrived. Also, snowblowing the driveway so late in the day would just mean that the driveway would get covered again if it snowed during the night and I would have to clear the driveway again the next morning so my efforts would feel wasted. Of course, on the other hand, it would be harder to snowblow if the snow got too deep and deep snow could potentially cause problems for the guys when they left in the morning. I think that what really made me decide to snowblow–besides the accumulating snow–was that the meteorologists were saying that the temperatures could get dangerously low on Friday. They say that in such cold, frostbite can occur within 30 minutes. It takes me 1.5 to 2 hours to snowblow the driveway. I didn’t really want to get frostbitten. So I bundled up and went to work.

I had cleared the bottom half of the driveway when a cable came unfastened and the auger on the snowblower quit working, which means the snowblower stopped blowing snow. I took the snowblow back up to the garage. EJ easily fixed the problem when he got home and then he finished clearing the top half of the driveway in the dark. I would have helped–or done it all myself–because EJ was tired from work and not feeling particularly well, but he just went ahead and did it. He didn’t snowblow up near the house so I finished that bit this morning.

The snow measuring post.

I realized that we had forgotten to put up our board measuring how many feet of snow we have before winter. Actually, we don’t ever take it down, but last summer we needed the post it was attached to elsewhere and we never got around to putting up a new measuring stick somewhere else. I decided that I really would like to have a way to measure the snow, so yesterday I painted some wooden numbers and this morning I attached them to the bird house post near the rocks. I didn’t know if the “liquid nails” glue I used would work in such cold weather, but it set almost immediately. In the few minutes that it took to glue the letters on the post, my hands were aching with the cold. Brrrr.

Although it’s been cold, it hasn’t been as bad for us as other areas of Michigan or the country. The south of the country–as far south as Florida–is currently getting cold and snowy weather. I think they suffer more from it because they don’t have the warm clothes or snow removal equipment that we do in the North.

I have spent several mornings figuring out what Hebrew words to teach Hannah. I finally thought of googling “Hebrew Dog Commands” and found a list that the IDF uses to train their dogs. I’m using some of their commands–such as “wait” and “go outside” and “let go” but I am also substituting some of my own commands. For example, I’m not using their word for heel–which literally means “to the foot.” Instead, I’m using a Hebrew word meaning “with me” because I want Hannah Joy to walk with me. As far as I can tell, the IDF doesn’t use gender specific words, which only makes sense because they want to be able to give a command applicable to any dog whether male or female. I’m using some feminine words but some not–especially if I’m not sure of what the feminine form is or I’m not sure of the pronunciation.

I also have to decide whether to use an English or Hebrew word, and which Hebrew word to use. For example, Hannah already knows “sit,” “shake” and “fetch” in English. Do I stick with those or teach her the Hebrew words? And if I teach her a Hebrew word, I have to decide which to use. For example,  I could teach Hannah the Hebrew word for “hand”  (yad) when I want her to shake my hand or I could teach her “shalom” or some other greeting. Some commands are better in Hebrew so only we can tell her to do something, but other commands might be better in English so she can interact with others–such as shake their hands or play fetch with them. And some words are just more automatic in English–I could teach Hannah “good dog” in Hebrew, but find myself saying it in English without thinking about it.

Hebrew word cards

I think it’s going to be easier for Hannah to learn the Hebrew words than for us because I have to first decide on and find the words, teach them to myself and EJ, and then remember them to tell Hannah. I have made cards of the Hebrew words and their phonetic pronunciation and stuck them in strategic places around the house to help EJ and me learn and remember. I made cards of the few words I am currently teaching Hannah as well as cards for words that I might teach her–because it’s easier to make all the cards of words that I might use rather than having to go back and find them later.

It’s really fun learning the Hebrew words and teaching Hannah. She is actually doing quite well.  I tell her to “wait” for me to put her food own down and eat only when I tell her to, and while we have lots of work to do, she’s doing quite well when you consider how hungrily she went after her food when we first brought her home. And she is learning to walk “with me,” sort of. It’s difficult to get her to walk for long beside me because she wants to get in front of me to get her reward/treat. She’s making progress.

Hannah Joy is such a delight. She has such a personality.  It’s really nice to have a dog in my life.


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